Run! It’s a Fiend Without A Face!

fiend poster“Fiend Without a Face” is a 1958 sci-fi movie made in the UK, set in Canada and starring a bunch of Americans who had been stranded in Old Blighty for some reason or other – probably because their careers hadn’t gone too well and they couldn’t afford the air fare home. For a low budget movie it’s quite competently executed, not like The Wasp Woman or Attack of the 50 Foot Nothing. It’s well directed and photographed, adequately acted, doesn’t have any glaring flaws, and quality-wise sits in quite comfortably with the more expensive and better known Hollywood sci-fi flicks from the nuke-fearing 50s.

The story has something or other to do with an English scientist who has retired to Canuck Land but still continues to pursue his experiments – mostly in secret, so you know the pork pies are about to hit the fan. Turns out the silly old duffer has been fiddling around with telekinesis and this has led to the creation of invisible, brain-sucking monstrosities which proceed to roam around killing American soldiers at the local U.S Air Force base as well as Canadians minding their own business. Not a bad idea, but what really makes this piece memorable are the title creatures. Freaky, bizarre, creepy and at the same time kind of adorable…

fiend on the floor
Aww, who’s a cute little monster, then? Seriously, it has eyestalks with tiny little eyes on the end, like a snail or something! I don’t know who designed these delightful little grotesqueries, but apparently the stop motion effects were carried out by a German called K. L. Lupel and are very impressive, pretty close to a Ray Harryhausen level. The best scenes are the ones in which we finally see the critters – they are invisible for the first hour of the movie – and these were directed by another German called Baron Florenz Von Nordoff, so a lot of this movie’s appeal can be credited to him ( how ‘bout that – an aristocrat that wasn’t totally useless!) These final scenes are set in a house that is under siege by the creatures, who, thanks to lots of radiation or something, have finally become visible, and the things are all over the place — in the trees, creeping along the lawn like a pack of satanic inchworms, leaping through the air, making weird noises. The entire thing is downright surreal…

They’re crawling along the floor…

fiend on the floorAnd coming through the grass…

inchworming fiendHere’s one relaxing by the hearth. What could be so menacing about such a placidly domestic scene?

fiend by the hearth

Oh, oh, here it is just a few seconds later, sucking the brains out of some poor man’s head…

fiend at the dinner tableThey hang out in your garden, driving down property values…

fiends in the treesAnd defying gravity…

fiend defying gravityThey break into your house, foul your furniture and break your knick knacks…

vandal fiendHere’s one launching itself through the window…

fiend flying through the airAnd here’s one of his mates perving on the heroine of the film. I’m not sure which is more unsettling – the fact that there’s a freaky creature in the shower with her, or the somewhat lascivious look on her face…

kim parker just hangin with a fiend without a faceAnd here’s what happens when they get overly friendly. Perving is one thing, but trying to suck a girl’s brain out of her skull is definitely one of those dating no-nos…

sexual harassment fiend“Fiend” was apparently adapted from “The Thought Monster,” a Weird Tales story written by someone called Amelia Reynolds Long, whom I have never heard of and whose work has never been collected in book form, so I don’t see myself reading the original story any time soon. But it doesn’t even matter, because the appeal here is actually seeing these cool little killers leaping around, and being all cute and creepy all at the same time. Best way to watch “Fiend Without a Face”? Fast forward to the last ten minutes to see the brain-munching cuties do their thing, then zap back to the rest of the movie to give your mind a rest from all the surreal goings-on and find out what’s going on, then watch the Fiends attack the house once again.

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